What We Do In The Shadows is a mockumentary about the lives of vampire roommates who reside in Auckland, New Zealand. If that doesn’t sell you on the film, I don’t know what else will: Shadows is an utterly fantastic piece of cinema that is so lean, it’s one of the more finer forays into the mockumentary format.
What We Do In The Shadows opens up with a walk-through of the house hosted by Viago (Taika Waititi), and immediately builds up their quirks and conflicts within the first ten minutes. There’s absolutely no fluffing about with this film, and it pays off brilliantly – with joke after joke after joke, and light dancing around vampire tropes. Make no mistake: this is not the vampire film you’re expecting.
This is a film that doesn’t deserve spoilers: every joke you hear and see is designed to add to each character. Viago is terrible at turning and eating people, shown in a sequence of scenes that are horrific but also sidesplittingly funny. The relationships between Viago and Vlad (Jermaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham) are organic, heartfelt, violent, and hilarious. This is a boiling pot that is peppered with a fantastic supporting cast, in the form of Rhys Darby and Cori Gonzalez-Macuer playing a werewolf and recently turned vampire, respectively.
There are pop culture references in the form of a quick nod to Blade, and also a hidden community of zombies, vampire hunters, and every mythological creature you’ve heard about. All of these communities somehow feel fleshed out right from the get go. How Waititi and Clement and have filled this stocking is something hard to believe – especially because it’s done so well.
It’s a very fluid movie with no real fat to it. The narrative of each vampire is solid, but the mainline narrative is held together purely by emotional stakes. The film does a marvellous job at bolstering its supporting cast, to the point you could consider them part of the main group of characters. It’s extremely subtle and also extremely funny, and might be the one to beat for the award of Funniest Film in 2014.